Study says restrictive diet may have less benefit on older adults

A study conducted by researchers from Geisinger Health System and The Pennsylvania State University found that apart from treating high blood pressure,...

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|Jan 18|magazine4 min read

A study conducted by researchers from Geisinger Health System and The Pennsylvania State University found that apart from treating high blood pressure, diet may not affect the health outcomes of the elderly adults age 75.

The research which followed 449 individuals from rural central Pennsylvania for five years who were on average 76.5 years old at the beginning of the study suggests that placing adults over 75 on overly restrictive diets to treat their excess weight or other conditions may have little benefit at that age.  

Christopher Still, D.O., FACN, FACP, director, Geisinger Obesity Institute and director, Geisinger Center for Nutrition and Weight Management said, “These findings support the value of eating a healthy diet in the management of high blood pressure in older adults. But we did not observe any other strong associations between dietary patterns and health outcomes or mortality in persons 75 years of age.” Mr. Still also said, “So our research fails to support the use of overly restrictive diet prescriptions for older persons, especially where food intake may be inadequate.”

The researchers assessed the study participants’ dietary patterns five times during a 10-month period by asking them about their diets over the previous 24 hours.

The participants were categorized by these three dietary patterns. Using Geisinger outpatient electronic health records, researchers identified whether the participants developed cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and metabolic syndrome during the five-year period.

They found no relationship between dietary pattern and prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome or mortality in the subjects; although they did find an increased risk of hypertension in people who followed the “sweets and dairy” pattern.